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Patients before Profits - Why Hospitals Should Invest in Patient Safety?

Patients’ safety in health care should be the priority rather than profits when it comes to safety or profits. However, the trend is “for-profits” in health care that neglects unprofitable patients. Patients’ safety cannot be compromised as a cost savings measure. The message is not only for “for-profits” health care professionals but also for “not-for-profits” health care professionals. Research shows that hospital care quality is lacking universally in all countries. Cost containment strategies in health care have been the norm in the healthcare industry and patients’ safety should not be lost sight of, in the process. Some of the common measures which may appear insignificant are reduction in the duration of hospital stay and reduction in the number of care providers such as substitution of professional nurses with health care assistants.

Fewer trained staff and more intensive interventions point to possible deterioration of quality of care. These concerns have resulted in the introduction of regulations such as minimum staffing mandates for hospital nurses in many countries as reported by the World Health Organisation. Yet, respondents in research studies especially nurses have declared quality of care deficits, high nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction for the reasons that the hospitals they are employed in do not give priority to fair quality of care. The studies suggests that staffing accounts for a major portion of health care expenditure and cost containing strategies have negative consequences for quality of care. Health care organisations with good work environments and better professional nurse staffing result in more satisfied patients and nurses and evidence of better quality and safety of care as evidenced by patient satisfaction surveys.

Apart from staffing and good working environment in health care enterprises/facilities, there are many ways in which cost cutting attempts are hidden at the cost of patients’ safety.  Medication safety issues that can be cited are: Low cost medicine instead of high quality medicine and medications with side effects. Avoidance of essential drugs to avoid costs at patient’s risk. Avoidance of essential surgeries in acute conditions. Avoidance of patient care facilities such as lifts and ramps for old age and disabled patients in health care enterprises. Or for that matter,otherwise healthy young patients are weak while sick.

Therefore, an efficient health care system is the one that does not compromise on patient safety under the pretext of cost efficiency. There may be genuine cases of high cost wherein Governments should step in by providing subsidy to health care enterprises especially in the matter of hospital buildings infrastructure and equipments aimed at patients’ safety. 

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